As with any decade, the 2000s were a turbulent time for music. On the rock side, grunge had given way to nu metal, with the bubble of baggy pants and baseball caps about to burst for Fred Durst and co. Meanwhile, hip hop was making its inexorable rise to the top of the commercial charts and an indie revival was budding in New York and Britain.
In the midst of it all, however, guitar music has found a way to carry on. Although the era of nu metal was coming to an end, the subculture’s most inventive bands were producing music that transcended form.
Cult favorites were becoming rock heroes conquering the arena, the pop punk that was the flavor of the 90s was gradually turning into something harder and louder, and as the decade wore on, the indie scene was producing groups who felt comfortable going up and snowshoeing.
The 2000s may have been (to date) the last hurray for rock guitar at a prominent position in the music industry, but if the genre’s heyday was over, it was going to come out loud.
These ten songs are the soundtrack to an unforgettable decade in hard rock.
While tarred with the nu metal brush, Deftones’ musical ambitions went far beyond many of their contemporaries in the genre. Their 2000 album White Pony was muscular and aggressive, but with stellar musicianship and influenced by trip hop, shoegaze and beyond.
The album culminates with the sinister and distinct “Change (In The House Of Flies)”. Although hidden towards the end of the record, it was actually their first single, possibly an attempt by the band to break away from the glut of unimaginative bands they had been lumped in with.
It’s a masterclass of tension and relief from vocalist Chino Moreno, who desperately stretches her voice over the track. The guitars are thick and heavy but played with patience. It’s an exercise in angst rather than outright anger, slow but never muddy, with shimmering production from genre expert Terry Date.
It’s a song that creates a singular vibe and sits there for its entire duration, capping off an often heavy and abrasive album with something creepy, insidious and all the heavier for it.